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Painted for the gods

We all know gender is construed. And nobody construes gender like a drag queen (or king). And drag queens are experiencing an overall resurgence and are (finally!) getting the recognition that they so justly deserve (I see you, Maddie!). Even my manfriend knows who RuPaul is and how RPDR works. Yep. Drag, in all its gender defying glory has broken into middle America’s living rooms.

It’s been coming for awhile. ‘Influencers’ copy the lingo, MUAs use their make up techniques and people make money using the make up tricks queens have developed in front of mirrors minutes before going in front of their audiences. But drag is above all, camp. It's the sublimation of everything that is artificial and beautiful and distilled on a person. What better way to demonstrate that beauty is a construct than transform a man into a sublimated woman?

Drag could be as fish as all hell (Farrah Moan, Gia Gunn), artsy (Sasha Velour, Acid Betty, Kim Chi), comedic (Bianca del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen), theatrical (Jinkx Monsoon, Violet Chachki) and so on and so forth. But above all, drag is a slap on the face of mainstream perceptions of gender, because it basically comes from marginalized communities (gay men, gay men of color, effeminate gay men of color and the layers and intersections pile up). Even though many iconic drag queens are white, for me there's nothing like Crystal La Beija throwing perfect shade in The Queen in 1967:

And now drag and drag makeup have become basically, mainstream. You can see eighteen year old influencers on Instagram cutting a crease and bragging of full coverage foundation and Kim Kardashian (a bio drag queen IMHO) telling the world how she carves a face by using the shade/light contouring technique drag queens (and probably many painters inspired by the Renaissance) use. The art of drag, just ten years ago relegated to tiny bars on Wednesday night, now has a place on America's living rooms and Mama Ru (RuPaul herself, who started another revolution nine years ago) now poses for Annie Leibovitz in Vogue. You've come a long way, baby.

So next time you go to your little gay bar on a Wednesday night and there's a drag show, make sure you tip the artists. Who knows, maybe in six month's time you'll see them on your little screen. Sharing a death drop and much more.

Yaaasss, hunty. Shante, you stay.



  1. Back in the 90s, when I lived in NYC, I dropped in at 88s, a piano bar, on Sundays to catch Varla Jean Merman do her show. She was the first drag queen I admired. She could sing in a high falsetto while "spraying" a can of Cheeze Whiz into her mouth. That was talent! She didn't lip-synch, but sang all her songs and then some. She's now made it to the big time in Provincetown and travels around the country doing shows. I love her, as well as Ru Paul and the many other artists who have given the art of drag the recognition it very well deserves. Great observations!

  2. "We're all born naked and the rest is drag."

  3. I saw "wigstock" back in the day; I still think lady bunny is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. rupaul is #2. can you imagine what it would be like to have a cock-a-tail or 3 with those 2? I would probably piss myself laughing!

  4. To answer anne marie....I dont know about Ru...she is always lady like, but when bunny drinks...you best be ready to drink, or keep your puppy ass on the porch. Why do you think I'm a mess that next day???

    Great post. People are eating drag up!!! Your so sweet sixpense!

  5. Yes, yes, yes! Tip the artists! Show them you appreciate their talent! They spend a lot of time putting together their act!

  6. @tiowalter:Varla was on Hey Qween (a YouTube gem!) and she spilled the tea on everything! She is a trained singer, I understand and yummy out of drag.
    @Debra: that’s right! Mama Ru can preach.
    @AnneMarie: Wigstock should be required viewing for the children. Any gayling worth their rainbow should watch it.
    @Maddie: yes! Drag is feeling its oats! 😄. Lady Bunny is a riot! Drag performers are to me, walking art installations. Just add music and enjoy!
    @Dave: I agree. Drag artists are a super dedicated bunch. And pageant queens? I can’t start counting the ways!


  7. I love drag. The artistry and the talent and the chutzpah,not to mention the clothes and the death drops and the sashay!


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